Bijl Architecture’s modern extension wrapped in Axon cladding creates a minimalist backdrop for an 1872 sandstone shed in the mining town of Bendigo, Victoria.
A sympathetic union between new and old forms is the result of a commission from a busy music teacher and conductor to his architect and friend, Melonie Bayl-Smith, principal of Sydney-based Bijl Architecture. The firm was tasked with the adaptive restoration of a one-bedroom heritage carriage house and the addition of a new single-storey lodge, creating a three-bedroom home suitable for modern living with space for host musical performances.
The new extension and multi-purpose garage are located to the side and rear of the shed, forming an L-shaped plan that maximizes a limited footprint. The historic sandstone was largely intact, so restoring the coachhouse involved revitalizing the home’s original features and openings and tackling a 1970s conversion. Larger openings, including a graceful arched porte-cochere, have been extended to create through views of the new open-plan kitchen and living space and to illuminate the once dark interiors of the coach house.
Connecting heritage and contemporary structures
The monochromatic composition of the new black box and stoneware box – and a largely white interior – establishes a strong conceptual theme for the design and a neutral backdrop for living in the expanded home.
“The work of artist Donald Judd, his minimal and calm forms, was my reference when I brought a new element to a heritage building already full of character,” says Melonie. “The monolithic nature of the new form does not attempt to compete textually or formally with the coachhouse’s period features, such as archways and natural patterns in the sandstone; he sits quietly beside.
Axon wraps the exterior of the pavilion in the almost black Dulux ‘Monument’ hue and runs through the interior entryway and a discreet wall of doors and storage cabinets. “The fiber cement cladding forms a backdrop inside and out with a recessive, quiet presence that allows the sandstone to express its personality unhindered,” Melonie explains. “It supports the idea of contemporary and heritage volumes sitting harmoniously next to each other, enveloping and unfolding.”
The diesel black hue can also be seen in the kitchen credenza, a burnished steel fireplace, sturdy Axon clad doors and a bespoke black steel sculptural staircase that accommodates a grand piano below.
“We enjoyed working with the Axon cladding inside the house as it has a lovely soft finish,” says Andrew Lee, Project Architect at Bijl Architecture. “We’ve used steel on a few interior features, but we didn’t want to use it on a larger scale because it’s not as soft and residential as the Axon product.”
Detail mixed coating materials
Externally, the construction has simple lines to create a clean outline for the new building. Axon siding’s groove offers residential scale and references the tongue-and-groove siding seen on older buildings. The garage is lined with wooden slats for ventilation and looks light and semi-transparent at certain angles. External corner and junction trim has been visually minimized throughout.
“We didn’t want an entrance with a picture frame, so we created a very small partition above the front door and then recessed the door frames for a very refined entrance,” says Andrew. “Once you step through the front door, the ceiling swings open and opens into a skylight, so visitors can appreciate the full height of the shed and its textured sandstone wall.”
“We originally considered creating a metal-clad box for the pavilion, but the Axon cladding finish sits better against the sandstone and provides a break between the steel elements of the house,” says Andrew. “It was also a cheaper alternative with better uptime and quicker to get it to site. And meeting the fire resistance requirements, it ticked all the boxes for us.
Photographer: Adam Gibson